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Wed, Nov. 13

Family experiences Wales while mom attends college
Like a scene from Harry Potter or Winnie the Pooh...

Puja and Carlo Robinson, who grew up in Chino Valley, in downtown Cardiff, Wales.

Puja and Carlo Robinson, who grew up in Chino Valley, in downtown Cardiff, Wales.

(Editor's note: The Robinsons are long-time Chino Valley residents. Mom Kate earned a scholarship in Creative Writing to attend college in Wales, where she also works on a literary magazine)

We arrived at Aberstywyth University in Aberstywyth, Wales on Sept.25 and will leave next September. I brought my two youngest kids with me. Puja is attending the local 'comprehensive school' - called that I think because the public schools are run more like charter schools and most have elementary, middle, and high school on the same grounds but usually in different buildings.

Carlo attended school for a while, but is now looking for work - as the dependent of a university student he is allowed to work up to 20 hours per week. Many kids here opt to graduate 16 and find work or go to the local community college for vocational classes. Only the university-bound go to school until 18 or past 18.

We live in an old farmhouse,a univeristy-owned house, just a short way from the National Library of Wales and at some point I'll investigate the geneaolgy resources there. The farmhouse sits near a dorm complex, surrounded by woods and scenic paths that lead through the woods and to the main avenue and the university, which sits on a ridge overlooking the town and the seafront. Technically I think we live outside town limits, though we're in walking distance of both the university and the business district.

Aberystwyth is pronounced Aberest -wyth - in sort of a sing-songy rhythm with a separate last syllable that's interesting.  

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a Harry Potter novel, or an episode of Winnie-the-Pooh or Wind in the Willows. When I walk home through the woods, I half-expect to see Tigger bounce out from behind a tree or stumble over Eeyore. I encounter lots of undergrad students on the AU campus who look like just the oldest students at Hogwarts. I can picture a few of the oldest professors in black robes and carrying wands!

Foreign students are allowed to sign up for the National Health Service (NHS), and have a choice of clinics in Aberystwyth, same as the locals. Signing up for this service is a quick and easy routine. Appointments are made for check-ups and other routine requests - walk-ins start at 4 p.m. if you're sick or have a minor emergency. There are no fees and no fees for prescriptions.

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